Hello friends! Recently, I have been working on an interview with a friend of mine who runs a blog about writing called Wording Well. Her name is Lorraine Reguly, and we will shortly be co-authoring a post about yours truly. She has encouraged me to be more open about the fact that I am blind and share some more about how I manage my life in general and this website in particular. She was surprised that a blind person is on Pinterest much less that I seem to be building a following there and am actually using it to promote sales of amusement equipment and related items. She wanted to hear how I do this and thought I should write a post to share my experience with the rest of you. I hope you enjoy the post. I have never thought of anything I do as being all that special. However, the more that I interact with people the more I am realizing I am an inspiration to many of you. So, I am embracing that role and sharing some of how I do this with you. Feel free to forward any questions about me in particular or blind people in general. I like to think I am unique, but I’m sure I can help with any of your questions.

Pinterest screen shot

Why I joined

I’m sure most of you are wondering why a totally blind person decided to join a social media network that is almost exclusively visual. I have to admit that I was skeptical myself. I asked my friends and family what is this Pinterest. Most of them weren’t really sure. They thought it was mostly a scrapbooking site. I asked on Facebook, and my friends on there said, “Max, itís for crafters, hobbyists, do it yourself people, etc.” I was told that it was highly unlikely I could use it to help sell amusement equipment, which is the criteria I use for all my decisions. What finally convinced me to try it was the fact that almost every blog I visited had a share on Pinterest button. And even my newly installed sharing buttons had one of these too. So, I opened an account, created a board titled amusement equipment and posted my first pin. But for those of you who know me, you know that if I decide to do something; I am going to try my darndest to be one of the best at it.

Finding People To Follow

My next thought was, “Who do I follow on here?” I tried searching for carnivals, fun fairs, amusement parks, family fun centers, etc., and I didn’t find much. I figured I would have to be more creative and expansive in my searching. So, I tried caterers, wedding planners, and balloons. Now, these people aren’t going to need rides and games, but they will need concessions machines tables and chairs, helium tanks, chocolate fountains, etc. Next, I tried all the major fair food groups and was very successful finding people to follow using words like funnel cakes, cotton candy, hot dogs, pizza, French fries, corn dogs, etc. Naturally, I found mostly permanent locations, but yet again these places will have need to buy and more likely sell all kinds of food and drink machines. Finally I tried arcades, boardwalks, bowling alleys, and skating rinks. I don’t have enough coin-operated equipment on the site mainly because most people don’t realize I sell it on the site. So, you may have to be more inventive when searching Pinterest than when trolling other social media sites; it is possible to find businesses to connect with in almost any niche.

Follow Peoples’ followers

Another way you can find people to follow is by following the followers. When you visit anyone’s profile or home page on Pinterest you will find an area that says pins from. These are people who that person is following. If the person you have targeted might be interested in what you are promoting, then the people they pay attention to may also be interested. So, I started clicking those links and reading their headlines. If they may be interested in the amusement industry, social media, blogging, personal development, or my story; then I also followed their posts. In my opinion this is the equivalent of a friend or connection request because each time you follow someone they get an email notification. The message says “mistermidway has started following you and you may want to follow him back.” I love getting these messages! So far there has only been one page I could not reciprocate with. It was a page about milfs. I won’t mention what the abbreviation stands for, but most of you know and as a result know why I couldn’t follow them back.

Join Groups To Meet People

Another great way to find people to follow is to join groups. This should be familiar to anyone who has spent much time on Facebook or Google Plus. I haven’t done much with groups yet. I am a member of a few, but they each invited me to join. When you do a search on Pinterest, You have the option of getting results of pins, pinners, or boards. When you find a board you like, you click follow. If the board is a group board or a collaberative board, and if the owner approves of you becoming a member; He or she will invite you to join the group. Once this happens, you can then add pins to these group boards which will be seen or at least may be seen by everyone who is a member of this group board. One thing I do love about Pinterest is no one can sign me up to a board without my permission. If someone thinks you would like their board, you get an email. Its then up to you if you want to click the link and find out what their group is all about. You then have to click either join or ignore. I’m a big fan of using email notifications to manage social media, so I love their system. You also get an email alert every time someone else posts to these group boards. I am currently a member of a group for friends of the Ventura county fair, another for dog lovers, and one to support other small business owners. Pinning on the boards you have joined is another good way to get exposure to more people on the network. And when you have relevant posts to pin, itís a great way to maximize your promotion efforts. I usually start with a photo of myself and an introductory post. I encourage you to write such a post and save it for when you need it. Remember to include a link to your website, blog, or better yet your primary pinning board.

Here Is Where Content Comes In

I must admit that finding and following people was easier to figure out than learning how to post items. I actually had to search Google until I found a tutorial on it along with a link for submitting pins that I saved to my bookmarks page. Since then, Pinterest has made the process easier for someone using a screen reader. Basically, I click the “add a pin” link which is the second icon on your home screen that says “add a pin.” The other one isn’t a link. It is clickable, but it isn’t as easy to use. I don’t know why there are two of them or why they behave differently. Next, I find the “select file” option and browse my computer to pick a file to upload. After that, I write a description that includes a link back to my site. I do this because most of my posts have to do with pieces of amusement equipment, and I want people to follow my post to the site where they can see the rest of the photos, watch a video if one is available, read the full description, and have the option of surfing the rest of my site. The plan is once they are on the site, they will want to look at other items for sale, check out my blog posts, browse through the links section, or click one of the links to connect with me on other forms of social media. You want to include the best photo you have whenever possible. Sometimes, the point you are making requires a lower quality photo or one in a specific size or format. But the important thing here is you want to consistently post good content because your followers and your follower’s followers are all watching.

Value of Sharing Friends’ Posts

Now, like with all forms of social media, the best way to get noticed is to interact with others on the network. As a totally blind person Its difficult for me to read posts on Pinterest. Some people add text, but most just post images. So, I have a hard time knowing what posts to share or what they call repin on Pinterest. To get around this I share my friends’ posts. I am subscribed to lots of blogs and several YouTube channels. I will tell you it is easier to share YouTube videos than it is to share blog posts. Part of this is the fact that YouTube is totally visual and has better designed sharing buttons. Another reason is that not everyone includes images in their posts. If a post doesn’t have at least one image in it, then the share on Pinterest button won’t work. Now, I love sharing my friends’ content, so sometimes I will search their sites for their profile images to download so I can pin their post. But I do this rarely, and you should make it easy for people to share your articles on any network you have sharing buttons for. And while I’m not on Instagram, I imagine this would also apply there. The point to this is that by sharing my friends’ content I have Pinterest posts that are more than just me saying, “Hey look at me” or “Look at this” or “I just added this to my site.” Even I know that would get old. And like I said before, your followers and your followers’ followers are watching. You don’t want to give them cause to unfollow. More importantly, you want their followers to see your posts and go, “I need to follow him (or her).”

Likes And Repins

Another way to interact and grow your following on Twitter is by liking other people’s posts or sharing them by re-pinning. While I believe my followers’ followers all have access to my pins, they become much easier to find if someone re-pins them. You are basically copying their images to your board. I don’t think I have to explain likes. Me personally, I use the like button more often because it feels safer. I feel that I need to be more sure about a post and or the person who wrote it before I make it a part of my own board. I encourage my friends to email me a link to their pins if they want me to re-pin them. But just like on any other social network, the more you help other people; the more likely they are to help you. My only wish is that Pinterest would make it easier to thank someone for their help. In most cases a profile will be linked to a website, Facebook page, or Twitter profile. I’d love to be able to easily send someone a direct message thanking them for their help. So for now I click the link to their action that I received in the email notification from Pinterest and leave a comment.

Turn Your Stream into A River

I like to think of my home screen on Pinterest as a stream. I think of it that way because it contains the posts of everyone I follow as well as the posts from people they are following. At least that is the way I understand it. Every time you attract a new follower you have a chance to introduce yourself to a whole new community. And each of these people could potentially decide to become your followers. I have had many people follow me that I never asked to, so this does seem to work. You want to do everything you can to keep your posts varied and interesting not only to keep your current readers but to add new ones You add enough of these streams together and you have a mighty river of influence.

Just Doing the Best That I Can

My goal here was to show you some of the methods I use as a blind person to access Pinterest. Some of these same techniques work for me as well on other favorite networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, and YouTube. I know there are better methods, but these are what work for me. And I must not be doing too badly at it because I have over 600 followers on Pinterest in a relatively short time using the site. My other networks are substantial and generally growing. I receive just as many invites to join other people’s networks as I send out. I would like to interact more with the people in my various communities, but there is only so much one person can do especially when that one person is blind. I am considering getting an ipad because many of the social media networks have iOS applications that make them much easier to use and allow you to be a more active part of the conversation. I hope you have enjoyed this post If you have, then please share it with your friends, family, and coworkers. Just use the buttons at the bottom of this post. And please leave a comment. I believe in visiting the sites of people who comment and reading at least one of their posts. And with CommentLuv, you do get those lovely backlinks. I love getting email from my readers and hope to hear from you soon. Thanks and take care, Max.